February 13, 2011

Color and Light ::: By: James Gurney

Book Review 
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist PainterI recently purchased Color and Light - Guide for the Realist Painter By: James Gurney. I decided to get it after reading an endless amount of reviews all praising it as being the next great art instructional / technique book. Some of the book reviews that inspired me to buy Color and Light include a recent article published in International Artist Magazine, as well as a recent post in the wonderful artist resource blog Making a Mark (specifically in this blog post). 

So far I've only read about 1/5 of the book and everything seems to be just as wonderful as all the reviews say! The book has been astonishingly insightful in its approached art, and color theory. One will not hear the usual vague art lingo that is almost impossible to apply. Instead Color and Light discusses color theory in a methodical and logical way.

Solid Structure 
Perhaps the book, and Gurney's descriptions are so wondeful because of his diverse backround. Having a bacholrs in archaeology suggest a scientific background that would most likely impact his unique approach to art. As stated above this book unlike so many others in the art technique category goes beyond reiterating the same old color handling methods. Color and Light explains why  things are the way that they are--- things light what lightfastness means and how the concept can be applied to the level of archival-ness of a given work (based on what medium the piece was created in).

Lightfastness = "resistance of a given pigment to fading as a result of exposure to light" (Gurney, 94). Some mediums, specific colors, or other specific variables are more fugitive = "susceptible to fading" (Gurney, 94). This concept is clearly displayed in the book by comparing 2 identical color swatches - one that had been placed in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, while another remained in a dark cool area unaffected by sunlight. Comparison swatches are shown for caran d ache water-soluble colored pencils, schmincke watercolors, prismacolor markers, carb-othello pastel pencils, lukas oil paint, dr. martins dyes/ inks, various fountain pens, general fluorescent highlighters, and finally general rollerball and fine point pens. 

In the past decade of being an avid artist I've never before fully understood the concept of lightfastness or its impact on artwork stability over the years. Did I know theoretically what the concept meant--- YES, but did I have any idea of the impact (visually) that different lightfastness ratings had on artworks stability over the years of wear ---- NOT AT ALL. 

Seeing the visual comparison of the example swatches cleared up any confusion!

Color and Light is a wonderful book that I highly recommend to all those looking to better understand color and the mechanics that cause colors / pigments to react the way they do!  I will review the book at greater length in the future once I have read it entirely - however I wanted to provide this initial analysis since I was happily surprised by this art technique book. 

I hope you are enjoying the end of the weekend and have a happy beginning to your week. OH and of course keep creating !


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